looking good on paper

flaws

These days, it seems everyone is trying to look good on paper.

Thanks, in part, to networks like Pinterest and Instagram, everyone is always trying to seem as though they have it all together. They have the perfect friends, the perfect house, the perfect education, the perfect job, the perfect kids, the perfect spouse…

And it had me thinking.

I’ve known so many people who seem to have it all together, but do they really?

People who post a picture of their husband with a caption about how much they love them and how amazing they are when—five minutes prior—they were screaming at or ridiculing them.

People who talk about how much they hate their job and how miserable it makes them, but the next time you see a post on Facebook, they are talking about how #blessed they are.

People who consistently talk badly about their friends or family, but when it comes to Instagram or Facebook or their blog, they talk about how supportive and wonderful they are.

All I can think is this: What’s the point?

Wouldn’t you rather be real than really full of shit? I know I would.

I can’t say I’m not guilty of the aforementioned crime. While I try to refrain from posting things on social media that I don’t mean, I find myself guilty of trying to look good on paper even if I’m not happy or things seem to be falling apart or I really, really can’t stand the people around me. Like I said before, we all want to have the best job; the best husband or wife; the best kids; the best house on the block. But part of appreciating what you have is acknowledging and admitting that it’s not perfect, and that’s okay. Part of being a real person is admitting when you’re having a hard day or being real with your friends instead of putting on a mask. It’s being honest about who you are.

One of my biggest pet peeves is people who are fake. As Dom said to me recently about a not-so-fun situation I’ve been dealing with, “Being nice because you want people to like you isn’t the same thing as being nice.”

Even when you seem to be the nicest person around with the sweetest family and the most money and the best friends, there’s always a background story. We can’t be perfect, so why bother lying to everyone’s faces? Why try to prove how extraordinary you are on an imaginary paper nobody is really reading when, in reality, the paper is a little wrinkled from wear and maybe has a few tears or coffee stains? Being real is what makes you relatable. Being honest is what makes you likable.

In this so-called journey to self-discovery I’ve been on, I’ve been working on not always trying so hard to have the wrinkle-free, tear-free, stain-free paper. I’m not going to pretend to be someone I’m not when I meet people just so they like me. I’m not going to ever pretend that Isla never cries; never whines; is always perfect. I’m not going to say I have the perfect marriage because, in reality, none of us do or ever will.

While I am so glad with where I’m at and that I’m learning every day how to have a fulfilled life, I’m going to stop trying to look good on paper.

And start trying to look good in real life, imperfect days and all.

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becoming a better person

It’s something all of us strive for, right? But what if becoming a better person means you have to face — and take responsibility for — all your demons?

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It’s not as simple as recognizing deep down inside what you’ve done; who you are; the mistakes you’ve made. I’ve tried that path, and I can tell you first-hand that it doesn’t work. You can journal, pray, blog, or beg for forgiveness in your own mind, but I’ve personally found that the only way to start fresh is to admit out loud who you are. To take responsibility for your demons and your actions and your past. To drown yourself in the bad things you’ve done…because only then can you come up for air. Only then are you admitting the person you are is better left behind you. Only then will the guilt screaming at you in your head, trying to burst out through your vocal cords, quiet itself. Starting anew is refreshing, but damn, if it isn’t hard. We all want to spring clean our souls and follow our resolutions, but we wonder days or weeks or months later why we’ve fallen short. Some of us hate our past, some of us are embarrassed, and some of us are simply disappointed, restless, and so, so exhausted. So we make more promises we can’t keep. We want the ending, but we don’t want to do the work. After so many times where I’ve sworn this was it — that this time, I would change — I’m forcing myself to do the work. I’m forcing myself to own up to what I’ve done, who I’ve been, and the dark thoughts I’ve found myself wrestling with for years. I’ll admit, it’s scary. It’s scary to not know how the world around you will react when you take off your mask, but it’s worth it. After all, don’t we all just want a fresh start?

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learning to step outside my comfort zone

I wish I could say I’m a firm believer in regularly stepping outside of your comfort zone, but I’m not.

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I’m often quick to greet new people, I’m not shy in the slightest, I don’t mind public speaking (likely due to majoring in Communication Studies), and I love trying new foods. These things are arguably difficult for many people — outside of their comfort zone — but I handle them with ease.

That being said, one thing I struggle with is speaking openly about my personal feelings on religion.

I grew up in a Catholic family. We went to church almost every Sunday, we said grace before dinner, and I went to CCD/PSR (essentially, church class) on Wednesday nights. This continued fairly regularly until high school. Eventually, we fell off the bandwagon, but I still alternated going to church and youth group with an old friend and my high school ex-boyfriend. It wasn’t consistent, and it was a different religion, but it was church.

That being said, I became as quiet as a mouse when it came to discussion any personal feelings about religion whatsoever. My mom says this is because I’m Catholic, and that’s just the way we are; we don’t pray publicly, we don’t talk about God, and we certainly don’t do it in groups with our friends. So when I was invited by a friend to go to Bible Study this past week, my initial reaction was to crawl into a hole.

For years, I wasn’t even sure I believed in God. This probably started in high school when I began attending church-related functions with my ex-boyfriend, Cory. I listened, and I thought, but the way his family openly prayed together during dinner — with conviction and deep, meaningful discussions — made me uncomfortable. Before I moved, his parents had us hold hands and pray in their living room together about the future, and my hands shook uncontrollably and I thought I might vomit. Not a great reaction, but it wasn’t because I was against it — I just freaked out at the thought of doing it aloud with other people. I didn’t understand why we were doing it. I didn’t even necessarily think anything would come of it. However, my feelings changed later when Dom and I found out we were going to have a daughter of our own, and for some reason, I suddenly couldn’t imagine not raising her around religion. It didn’t make sense to me. It was just something you did, and I wanted to try.

So we started going to church this past November. We attended a Baptism class, and we’ve made changes. We don’t say grace before dinner, but we are there in the “crying room” at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s every Sunday at 9am. This is all a big leap from years before when I had nothing to do with it, though Dom would have always enjoyed going.

But back to Bible Study.

Fear can be overpowering, but I had recently gone through a pretty awful experience with people I thought were my friends, and I had been craving a fresh start. Maja’s invitation couldn’t have had more perfect timing, but I was still hesitant. I called my mom, and we talked about everything that had happened — the drama and the feeling that I should be more involved. I also spoke with my mother-in-law about positive surroundings, both for me and for Isla. So I agreed to go. After all, it was just reading a book and discussing it, and I love to read. What did I have to lose?

On Thursday at 10am, I walked into a soon-to-be new friend’s home. My mind was sort of a nervous blur, and Maja made me some coffee while I met all the new girls who were attending.

Everyone was so nice. So normal. So not the crazy shove-the-Bible-in-your-face type people I wanted to avoid. Everything felt fairly natural as we made a list of people or things we wanted to pray for and assigned someone to do it. The Earth didn’t fall crack down the middle…even if I was a nervous wreck. Everything felt…nice. Simply nice.

I left that day with a powerful new feeling. I felt I met women who were kind, smart, loving, and just all-around great people. I felt positive and…enlightened, for lack of a better word. I didn’t feel I would spontaneously combust the following week when all the ladies came to our house and I had to speak my feelings out loud again. I felt a great change of pace from how life had been years before.

And I realized that it’s amazing what stepping outside of your comfort zone can do.

quicktolisten

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currently

Now for March’s “currently” post…because nothing that interesting has occurred in the past few days, and because, well, it’s a new month.

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LOVING: The 14-months-old age. I told Dom the other night that I think this is my favorite age Isla has been yet. Sure, we have to deal with temper tantrums and a whole lot of boundary-testing, but I just think she is so fun and so sweet right now. The nonstop hugs, kisses, and cuddles are something I never want to leave, and I’m almost sad for her to get a little older because I really think she is perfect right now. I love that she’s learning to talk, giggles at everything, and her drunken sailor walking. I can’t wait to have 50 (or just one) more children.

READING: Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table by Shauna Niequist. And I can’t stop. It’s not a read I’m speeding through, but that’s only because I really want to take in every chapter. I love what she shares about her life (from kids to life lessons to important events) and how she incorporates a favorite home-cooked recipe into almost every chapter. She writes beautifully, and I know I will be really sad to finish this. Definitely a book I would buy (I borrowed it from the library). For more of my favorite books, follow me on Goodreads!

WATCHING: House of Cards season 3 on Netflix. And who isn’t? (Note: if you answer “me” to this question, you may want to reevaluate your TV-watching activities.) While it’s not as action-packed as seasons 1-2, I’m really into what’s up with Doug right now. Also, did anyone else have a weird moment where they thought Claire might be pregnant? Because we did. We are also watching The Following (Mark is super dysfunctional, and I miss Lily and her beautiful face/hair/everything), and I’m, as usual, watching The Bachelor and Pretty Little Liars.

ANTICIPATING: Like last month, I’m looking forward to this trip to Ohio at the end of the month. Baby showers and hair cuts and family, oh my! Plus, my birthday is the 29th. Always a reason for anticipation and celebration. I’m also really excited to take Isla swimming this summer and to build her a swingset in the backyard.

LISTENING TO: A whole lot of throwbacks. Shakira, Mary J. Blige, Destiny’s Child, and Christina. Check out the #throwbackthursday playlist by Spotify. Isla and I sing it a lot in the car.

PLANNING: Business ventures! Last month was more successful in freelancing than I expected, and I’m really excited for some upcoming projects.

WORKING ON: Gardening. It’s almost that time. And (Mom and Dad, you’ll think this is gross) Dom and I are getting chickens! Both for the eggs and life lessons for Isla. And because we’ve always wanted them. And because we are wannabe farmer hippies.

WISHING: It would just consistently warm up…though I’m not totally ready for the 90-100 degree temperatures we are sure to have in roughly a month or two.

Anyone have book/Netflix/Hulu recommendations?

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i still can’t believe it was you

When I look at your face, it’s hard to remember that there was ever a time I didn’t have it memorized. Your brown eyes that completely light up in an instant. The dimple halfway up your left cheek. Your eight (and a half) tiny, little teeth.

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A little over a year ago, I was in labor, and I remember that my most frequent thought was what you would look like. Would your have your daddy’s dark, thick hair? My blue eyes? You would certainly have our olive skin.

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Roughly 30 hours later, I understood the most wonderful thing the moment I saw you: everything about you made perfect sense.

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As I watch you grow and learn every day, I still can’t believe you’re mine. I can’t believe your dad and I get to kiss those cheeks every day and be on the receiving end of your giant hugs. I still can’t believe we get to squeeze your adorably chunky thighs and count your tiny, little toes. I will never understand why we are so lucky that we get to snuggle you in the rocker every night while we read your favorite books, like Jamberry and In The Night Kitchen.

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Someday you’ll have a little brother or sister, and I’m sure this love I don’t think can ever grow will multiply. Amplify. Blow my mind.

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Until then, I’ll spend countless hours a day staring at your long, thick eyelashes and watching you beam with pride when you finally try (and easily achieve) that new thing you’ve set your mind to. I’ll continue picking you up at random to squeeze you in my arms and tickle your tiny “Buddha belly” (as your daddy calls it).

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I look at you and it amazes me every time that you were the one who gave me that first tiny kick at midnight while I watched “Dirty Dancing” and your dad was away at training, or that you were the one who got hiccups I could feel in my tummy every afternoon at 2pm.

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The bigger you get, the harder it is to believe I carried you for 41 and a half weeks. And the more perfect I realize you are.

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And I still can’t believe it was you.

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my first month of freelancing

Just under a month ago today, I took the plunge into freelancing.

freelancing

While I absolutely LOVE being a stay-at-home-mom and don’t want anything different for myself (or for Isla) any time in the near future, I’ve always been on the fence when it comes to having a little something for myself. It’s always been a struggle for me to not contribute anything financially, and while I’ve searched for a long time (a little over a year) to find some sort of side hustle that I actually love doing, it took me awhile to think of the one thing that made sense all along: writing.

I’ve been writing for years. From all the way back in middle/high school when I used Xanga to write incessantly about my boyfriend at the time or my BFF that week (Flashback Friday, anyone?), to frequently blogging on Myspace, to keeping a document on my computer where I’ve journaled for several years now… I’ve always loved writing. I’ve kept a blog of some sort fairly consistently for over four years now. I don’t really write for anyone in particular, but I just can’t seem to stop.

One of my favorite bloggers, Allie, who I really admire and consistently keep up with, is a freelance graphic designer. She has been for years. Graphic design is something I’ve always been interested in (and recently started practicing), but until I’m good enough to do anything with it, I wanted to find something I felt more confident in.

When I decided (after being indirectly persuaded by Allie’s blog and a couple others) to begin freelance writing, I never expected it would feel this good. Of course, extra money is always nice, but I never thought I would truly look forward to writing for other people. I was so, so wrong.

I can honestly say that I’ve only had two jobs I have ever really loved until now, and while I was really hoping I would love freelancing, I wasn’t totally sure. What if it sucked? What if all my clients were awful? Or worse, what if I never got any clients?

Luckily for me, I surprised myself. After just a month on oDesk (one of the websites I use for freelancing…and definitely my favorite so far), I’ve met — and surpassed — all of my weekly income goals. I’ve landed editing and blogging contracts with publishing companies, blogging for an interior designer, and even some odd jobs like writing someone’s marriage vows (yes, I’m serious) and love letters. Dom says I’m basically Joaquin Phoenix in “Her,” and I don’t hate it.

Owning my own business has always been a goal of mine, and while this isn’t even close to that level yet, it feels really good to be doing something for me- something that I love, and something I feel like I’ve really earned. I can’t wait to see what happens with it in months (and years) to come!

Do you have some sort of side hustle? Any freelancing tips? Comment or shoot me an email!

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precious moments

Lately I’ve been trying to spend the better half of every day appreciating. You might be wondering what, but there is no “what.” I’m just trying to love the good moments for what they are and let the bad ones go as quickly as they come in.

Little moments like waking up to this face and getting sweet kisses.

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Moments when it rains…my favorite type of weather.

The smell of coffee in the morning.

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Dom coming home from work.

Finishing a project.

Puppy cuddles.

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After a long week and a lot of thinking, there’s nothing better than just letting each moment be what it is, savoring the good ones, and then moving on to the next.

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